This week's Theater Talk conversation starts with GIVE 'EM HELL, HARRY (originated by Buffalo's own James Whitmore) these days starring David Lundy at the New Phoenix Theatre, but only through October 29. Meanwhile, CHRISTMAS IN JULY at the Alleyway concerns a group of gay men who meet at a summer resort and become fast friends. The playwright, Matthew Crehan Higgins, is director of Buffalo's Pride Center, and the cast is all gay, but interestingly, the director is not, it's Lisa Ludwig, and Anthony has some thoughts on why that is. And there's also a story or two about Sophie Tucker, the last of the "red hot mamas" whose career is, basically, a history of 20th century entertainment, from an Edison wax cylinder through vaudeville to television.

FINDING NEVERLAND's national touring opening at Shea's was a long time coming, starting back in the 1990s when outgoing President of Shea's, Anthony Conte, and producer Albert Nocciolino, raised the money to build a backstage large enough to handle touring Broadway shows. Another piece of the puzzle was getting state tax relief for producers willing to technically rehearse their shows in NY State. Then, it helped that the producer of FINDING NEVERLAND (based on a Miramax film) was UB graduate Harvey Weinstein. Add in award winning director Diane Paulus who has a wonderful, creative and critical eye for spectacle, and pretty soon you've got magic, fairy dust, and all. It's a very good night at the theater.

A unique community discussion will take place in the Science Hall Commons on the Canisius College Main Street campus Wednesday at 7 p.m. To say it is on the topic of race relations and diversity would be an oversimplification, of what is expected to include improv, puppets, a game show, role playing, audience participation and probably a few other theatrical surprises. It is also free. WBFO's Marian Hetherly talked with the creators of the national social justice production of "The Black-Jew Dialogues."

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The national tour of Finding Neverland opens with a preview performance Friday evening at Shea's Performing Arts Center. The tour is actually premiering in  Buffalo and that is a first for Shea's. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley attended a 'sneak-peek' and talked to some of the members of the show.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

A Buffalo musician, who once met 'The King of Swing', Benny Goodman, will perform a tribute show Friday and Saturday at Kleinhan's Music Hall.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley talked with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's Sal Andolina about his show, Benny and Me, in which he performs with the BPO Big Band.

Michael Murphy, formerly of the prestigious the Old Globe in San Diego picked up the reins this week from Tony Conte who left the organization in great financial shape and with three viable venues - Shea's PAC, the Smith theatre, and Shea's 710 Main.

photo courtesy of Jim Bush

Red Thread Theatre's presentation of Robert Waterhouse's LOUISIANA BACCHAE, based on the Euripides play, sets the Greek classic in the mysterious bayou backwaters, the land of gris gris and voodoo with a very sensual depiction of Dionysus (played by Greg Howze) and his Bacchae cult.

The racial tensions in Tulsa have deep roots

Sep 26, 2016

The city of Tulsa looks all too familiar this month. Protesters are demanding justice for yet another police shooting of an unarmed black man.

A series of disturbing videos show a Tulsa police officer killing 40-year-old Terence Crutcher after his vehicle broke down on his way home from a class at Tulsa Community College. The white officer who shot him, Betty Jo Shelby, 42, was charged Thursday with first-degree manslaughter.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Richard Lambert

What is a dramatic comedy? Well, it's a drama that tackles serious issues, but has a healthy dose of laughs to keep things moving along. LIPS TOGETHER, TEETH APART deals with social isolation, suicide, and AIDS, but, there ARE laughs, in a fine production with a stunning set by 2016 Artie Award winning Paul Bostaph. Meanwhile, Ujima Theatre and Buffalo United Artists collaborate on a story of a white playwright pretending to be black in THE SUBMISSION. And the Irish Classical Theatre presents Tennessee Williams' SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH, about a gigolo/drifter in the company of a faded movie star attempting to win back the love of his youth. DEAR LYDIA, at the Alleyway, a new play about a house-bound advice columnist, is also mentioned this week.

Happy Curiosity Day, Curious George

Sep 17, 2016

Today is Curiosity Day — the 75th anniversary of the creation of Curious George.

That seems like a good time to talk about the backstory of the mischievous monkey and his illustrious career of curiosity.

Curious George was born of the imaginations of Hans and Margret Rey, a husband and wife duo originally from Hamburg, Germany. Hans drew George, and Margret brought him to life with her narratives.

Chris Thile asked his parents for a mandolin when he was 2 years old. In the decades since, Thile has fronted the bands Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers and, while he was at it, won a MacArthur "genius" grant and sold millions of records. Next month, he will take over as the new host of A Prairie Home Companion.

We've invited Thile, frontman for Nickel Creek, to answer three questions about Nickelback, the Canadian band that some have called the worst rock 'n' roll band of all time. Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Panel Round One

Sep 17, 2016

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Sep 17, 2016

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Who's Bill This Time

Sep 17, 2016

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Bluff The Listener

Sep 17, 2016

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Panel Round Two

Sep 17, 2016

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Law enforcement DNA databases draw scrutiny, controversy

Sep 16, 2016
Michaela Rehle/Reuters

Imagine you are the victim of a crime: a burglary or a sexual assault.

DNA is taken from the crime scene and compared against a federally regulated FBI-run database used to process DNA evidence, called CODIS. The process can take as long as 18 months before a match is identified. In the meantime, the perpetrator has committed a string of other crimes.

But some local police departments claim they can get faster results — as little as 30 days — by using private labs and local DNA databases.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

One of Buffalo's prominent members of the theater community will be honor Friday night at the 2016 Curtain Up! Actress and director Mary Kate O'Connell will receive a Star in the Theatre District's Plaza of Stars.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley recently met with O'Connell to talk about her theater group, O'Connell & Company and her work with area youth.

Mary Kate O’Connell, a vivid presence in the Buffalo theater scene with a magnetic stage presence and a luscious soprano voice, has long been known as Western New York’s First Lady of Musical Theater. The guiding force behind O’Connell & Company, Mary Kate, accompanied by Rosy, her ever-present little dog, will be honored this Friday evening, September 16, with a star in the "Plaza of the Stars."

How #BankBlack could help narrow the US wealth gap

Sep 15, 2016
Jim Young/Reuters

Another hashtag revolution is drawing attention to the wealth gap experienced by the African American population: #BankBlack.

#BankBlack encourages those protesting police brutality to move their money to black-owned banks. After trending over the summer, black-owned banks have reported that thousands of new accounts have been opened and that their assets have grown by about $6 million.

The new music you should listen to this fall

Sep 15, 2016

Labor Day is behind us, and with the kids back in school, the days at the beach seem long gone. Luckily, Takeaway culture reporter Melissa Locker is here to lift your spirits with some new music coming out this fall. 

Here, she reviews the latest music from Against Me!, Warpaint, How To Dress Well, M.I.A., Dwight Yoakam, Wilco, Jack White and Angel Olsen. 

Against Me!
Album: "Shape Shift With Me "
Song: “333”

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Over the course of her career, soccer star Abby Wambach scored 184 goals — more than any other man or woman in the history of international soccer. She won two Olympic gold medals and was named the 2012 FIFA World Player of the Year before retiring from the sport in 2015. And yet, she says she never wanted to be known "just as a soccer player."

Mike Segar/Reuters

There’s been much scrutiny of the Clinton Foundation after reports indicated donors may have been given special treatment from the government while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.

Handwriting is dying a slow death

Sep 14, 2016

Nuns and school teachers everywhere are cringing at the grave state of handwriting. Are perfectly looped Gs and right-slanted sentences becoming obsolete?

Anne Trubek, author of “The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting,” seems to think our culture is heading in that direction.

Comic Jeff Ross makes his living insulting people. As a producer and performer for Comedy Central's celebrity roasts, Ross has hurled withering punchlines at celebrities like Donald Trump, Justin Bieber and, most recently, Rob Lowe. Dubbed the "roastmaster general," he's also hosted roast specials at a Texas jail and at a Boston police precinct.